Virginia Local SRTS Coordinator Program

Introduction

The Virginia SRTS Program’s Local SRTS Coordinator Program has proven highly successful since it was introduced in 2012, dramatically increasing statewide participation in SRTS activities such as International Walk to School Day, National Bike to School, and Student Travel Tally Month, and fostering sustained engagement in SRTS. The program consists of local SRTS coordinators who work with multiple schools to implement SRTS activities and program support staff who provide technical assistance and training to the coordinators.

Activities

Local coordinators are employees of school districts, municipalities, and non-profits, whose salaries are funded in whole or in part through a SRTS Non-Infrastructure Grant. Coordinators are responsible for implementing the work plan specified in their grant agreement, which ultimately derives from an Activities and Programs Plan or APP. The APP is similar to a comprehensive SRTS travel plan but focuses on implementing the programmatic Es—education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation. Coordinators are in a strong position to implement these Es in multiple schools, since they are embedded in local institutions and have direct access to key stakeholders, such as school district transportation directors and health and physical education supervisors.

Virginia SRTS Program staff members support local SRTS coordinators by orienting them to the program, leading monthly teleconferences and semiannual trainings, and providing ongoing technical assistance. Trainings have covered such topics as the NHTSA Child Pedestrian Safety Curriculum, parent and community outreach, Vision Zero, conducting a walkabout, and observing arrival and dismissal. Coordinators are active participants these meetings, sharing insights and experiences, networking with each other, and delivering presentations.

The Virginia Local SRTS Coordinator Program is now in its fourth year. During that time, the number of SRTS coordinators has risen from 9 in 2012 to 17 in 2015, with all 9 original grantees continuing over the entire four-year span. Sustainability is key feature of the program. It’s built into the yearly SRTS Non-Infrastructure Grant application process, which requires applicants to explain how they will create a sustainable SRTS program. It’s also built into the annual coordinator reporting cycle, which requires a series of three reports at the beginning, middle, and end of the grant cycle encouraging coordinators to define priorities, think strategically about opportunities, anticipate challenges, and learn from past experience. Finally, sustainability is factored into coordinator funding. While new applicants are eligible for full coordinator funding, applicants that have already received three grant awards must provide a 20% local match. This funding structure will enable the program to continue and expand. It also helps transfer some of the responsibility for sustaining coordinators financially to local jurisdictions, but not until after the value of the local coordinator has been fully demonstrated.

Milestones

Participation in SRTS activities has increased dramatically since Virginia’s Local SRTS Coordinator Program launched in 2012.

  • Walk to School Day participation has tripled, rising from 98 registered events in 2012 to 282 registered events in 2015.
  • Bike to School Day participation has increased nearly sevenfold, from 26 registered events in 2012 to 282 registered events in 2015.
  • Student Travel Tally collection has gone from fewer than 30 schools before 2012 to 282 schools participating Student Travel Tally Month in 2015.

As impressive as these numbers are, they don’t tell the full story. The Virginia Local SRTS Coordinator program’s impact is even greater than participation rates in these signature events suggest. Local coordinators work day-in and day-out to advance SRTS at their schools. Some of the coordinators’ other accomplishments include:

  • Launching pedestrian and bicycle safety education programs, including training P.E. teachers to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety.
  • Coordinating bicycle rodeos with local law enforcement and bicycling advocacy organizations.
  • Implementing no-idling campaigns.
  • Building partnerships with PTAs, hospital systems, police and fire departments, private businesses, universities, and others.
  • Engaging older students in research and planning projects related to SRTS.
  • Clarifying school district liability policies as they relate to walking and bicycling events.
  • Developing training courses for crossing guards.
  • Participating on local pedestrian and bicycling advisory committees and task forces.
  • Developing safety leadership programs for middle school students.

Contact

Robert J. Williams
Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator
VDOT Central Office
804.371.4868
robertj.williams@vdot.virginia.gov
www.virginiadot.org/saferoutes